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Rangers stumble and fall to poor Baggies loss - Report
Sunday, 6th Nov 2022 16:27 by Clive Whittingham

QPR made an inauspicious start to a final week before the World Cup break that features three games against sides in the bottom five, two of them at home, with a poor performance and 1-0 defeat to West Brom on Saturday - now three and a half games since Rangers last scored.

Mick Beale might have been forgiven for thinking this managerial lark was easy. Fifteen games into his first job as the main man, all the baggage and hangover from Queens Park Rangers’ 2021/22 collapse swept aside, all the budgetary constraints that affect a club that has transitioned from one of the haves to one of the have nots in this league shrugged off, eight wins quickly posted, top of the league, and Premier League clubs already calling for his services. Each passing poor result at Aston Villa or Glasgow Rangers bringing deeper lament he was no longer there to show them the way. “The answer”, we heard, “is managing QPR”.

Since turning down the chance to move to Wolves, however, Beale is slowly and steadily starting to learn things that Mark Warburton came to know to be true, and mentality deficiencies that have plagued this club for decades. If QPR come through a run of games where they essentially play all of the top ten in the league away from home in good shape, then face a week of games against three of the bottom five, you’ve been able to make a hefty profit on backing against them taking up that opportunity, and that’s been the case since this manager was in short trousers.

West Brom, second bottom of the league, had won only two of 14 coming into this fixture, but could conceivably have been two or three goals up in 15 minutes. Rob Dickie was caught out of position on three minutes, nearly got a desperate recovery attempt right, but Jayson Molumby got in behind anyway, drew a save from Seny Dieng, and how Grady Diangana managed to stick the rebound wide of the open goal only he will know. Dickie’s day didn’t get a lot better from there, confidence draining with each increasingly wild pass, but Leon Balogun wasn’t a great deal better alongside him — he stepped out with the ball after seven minutes and made an absolute horror show of it, requiring Kenneth Paal to rescue the situation for a West Brom corner. Kyle Bartley won the first header from this, and every other Baggies’ set piece all afternoon, but his effort was blocked. Still handing out party invites, QPR gave the ball away again on 13 minutes, West Brom immediately took it to the byline and cut it back, and John Swift scuffed his presentable opportunity wide of the goal via a deflection. From that corner Darnell Furlong had to do better with a free header against his former club, but also couldn’t find the target. Let off, following let off, following let off, and what had QPR learned from this? Well, from the goal kick, they gave the ball straight back to the visiting team on the edge of the box and started a new panic all of afresh.

A total shambles really, and when you see how they can produce a disciplined, switched-on, committed, tactically proficient display to get themselves a good result from a tough game at Norwich on Wednesday, to see them then come home and slouch out of the traps with this sort of slop against a team in the relegation zone was seriously fucking irritating.

A good chunk of the present day issues are budget and FFP related. QPR have struggled to buy and own strikers and goalscorers of sufficient quality in adequate quantity. Lyndon Dykes had good cause to feel aggrieved with his team mates on Saturday — he can’t cross the ball to himself and the amount of times players hung on and hung on and hung on to a ball without putting good, early service into the box was almost as infuriating as the unusually inept standard of our set plays. Whether you want to point the finger at the Scotstralian, his supporting cast, or the manager for not perhaps introducing the impact of Sinclair Armstrong until the last minute of the game, the fact remains QPR haven’t scored a goal at all now for three and a half games, nor really looked like doing so in that time, and their last score in open play was the thick end of 380 minutes of football ago.

Ethan Laird looked the best potential water source in that drought. He drew a foul and a yellow card for Erik Pieters on the quarter hour with our first serious attack — QPR wasted that free kick, and then never once targeted 34-year-old Pieters again despite the tightrope he was walking from that point on. Ilias Chair’s rainbow flick to free us through midfield soon after was delightful, and brightened a dire start on a dank day, but the corner we won off that attack, and the subsequent one when Laird skipped his way past three and drew a firm tackle from a fourth, were both pissed away. There was a better move in open play culminating in Iroegbunam shooting wide, and a high win of possession giving Dykes a half headed chance. QPR’s centre forward was so tired of waiting for better/any service he decided to pull a Chair ball out of the air that wasn’t meant for him, and a spin and turn later he was drawing a decent save from Alex Palmer. Curses we couldn’t catch this lot while Steve Bruce’s back fat was jiggling round on the touchline and David Button was keeping goal and conceding every other shot he faced.

Money also means QPR can payroll a good starting 11, and not a lot beyond that. Get everybody fit, rested and on the field — good side that’ll take some beating. Tire them out with a hectic fixture list, remove three or four of them with knocks, scratch beneath the surface, and there’s not a lot there. Beale, like Warburton before him, is discovering that Stefan Johansen, in particular, is of huge import in this part of the world. Get him fit and on the field and QPR are a different beast, but he’s not either of those things nearly often enough, and the other options are woefully shy of his level. Field did what he could, Iroegbunam did at least look capable of running past people and causing problems, but they were outnumbered and bossed by their opposition. Luke Amos started here, and you couldn’t fault his effort, but he still looks injured to me compared to the player who was scoring freely from deep at the end of last season, and his affect on the game was negligible. Andre Dozzell has all the physical attributes to do exactly the job Johansen does for us, and once or twice this season (Hull at home for instance) he’s done exactly that. Here, off the bench, may as well not have been there.

Rangers were often horribly laboured. The Baggies, keen to impress a new manager, were quick, aggressive in their press, committed and at it. But Rangers’ efforts to go around or through that too often included an extra touch or three on the ball that was not required. It took me back to being a kid, going clothes shopping with mum: “we’re going back to the car now”, “ok, great”, 45 minutes and three fucking shoe shops later and we’re still in the cunting shopping centre. The car’s this way guys… The amount of times you could see where the ball needed to go, with Paal or Laird in great position and space on their wings and often so desperate for it they were reduced to doing the Team America secret signal to try and attract the attention of the ball player, but Rangers instead put it through needless extra touches and passes before getting it there, allowing West Brom to crab effectively left to right and vice versa and close it down, was painful. You could see where it should go, one touch out of feet and then straight from midfield and into Paal/Laird, but instead a touch, a hold, a look around, another touch, and then a pass to Dickie, who passes to Balogun, who passes to Field, who then passes to Laird/Paal, now marked and shut down. I’ve had stuff delivered quicker by Royal Mail than some of the service our wide players got on Saturday. Get, it, out, there, quicker. Everything quicker. Everything. Move the ball. Move the football. Fucking Guiseley and District Arthritis Care trip to the bastard seaside.

There were, as we’re already coming to expect from this young referee learning on the job and already three QPR games deep into the season, moments of immense frustration with the officiating. Assistant and referee, mic’d up and able to speak to each other, somehow still pointing the opposite way for simple decisions. Clear and obvious fouls, such as one on Ilias Chair on the edge of the box, awarded only after moments of long delay and rising confusion. Kyle Bartley goes down “injured” three feet from the touchline, everybody in the ground knows he’s clock running, referee initially refuses the physio permission to come on and demands the player move to the sideline as he was clearly physically able to do, then bottles it and reverses that position when he refuses instead of standing his ground, and lacking sufficient bollocks to do anything other than wave him immediately back onto the field as soon as the play restarted. Cheating, aided and abetted by the match official. There was to follow, the big brave yellow card for time-wasting in the 91st minute, by which time the job is done, it doesn’t fucking matter any more, and the card has no impact either as punishment or deterrent — cretinous. Albert Adomah, belatedly on from the bench, was hauled to the ground at the back post under a late cross by a defender that knew he was in trouble and wasn’t even looking at the ball — penalty decision bottled. The kid couldn’t even referee a minute’s silence properly.

So desperate are they for fresh blood and new talent in the crisis-riddled, beleaguered, ageing refereeing ranks in this country, that they’re forced to promote a kid like this too high, too soon, to a level of football above one he’s mentally able to cope with at this point in his career, and we’re left to pay our money to watch rubbish like this while he gets up to speed. As Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink used to say, it is what it is.

Not half as frustrating as watching QPR though. You can get away with the sluggish open play by scoring from set plays, but the R’s rattled through eight corners and nine free kicks, each one worse than the last. Again, coat Dykes off if you like, but what’s he meant to do with that? And whatever you want to say about perhaps using Adomah and Armstrong earlier than Beale did here, a bench of those two, Archer, Thomas, Dunne and Shodipo offers next to nothing by way of impact and ability to change a game like this. West Brom, by contrast, brought on Brandon Thomas-Asante, upped it a notch, and won the game. Rangers had already been lucky to get away with poor positioning and lack of concentration from Dieng at the start of the half, when he should have been on the edge of the box to collect a through ball but instead wildly backpedalled into a weird spot on the edge of the six yard box while Jed Wallace ran onto the ball and very nearly caught him out at the near post from an acute angle. Thomas-Asante could have scored within seconds, but didn’t execute a scissor kick correctly from close range. Field, against his former club, gave away a clumsy and needless free kick on the corner of the box which allowed persistent scourge of QPR John Swift to stick one right on the head of the all conquering Bartley for 1-0 and game. It had been coming, from them, and from him.

An interesting test for our new manager, then. He added half a dozen new players over the summer, changed QPR’s shape, style and system, and caught several teams stone cold when his team was fit through September and October. But, bar putting the rounds of the kitchen through a woeful Cardiff side, we’ve now played five matches in a row where teams have been able to keep our two tens relatively quiet — Chair did all he could, but often held the ball too long, Willock didn’t look fit at all on his first start for a month — and restrict the impact of our full backs relative to what they were doing six weeks back — though I still rated Laird and Paal as our best players yesterday.

Switching to 4-3-3 with high, aggressive, attacking full backs was never the reinvention of the wheel it was perhaps being hyped as a few weeks ago. Coming up with an alternative to that when it’s not working, finding a way to make QPR competitive when they’re forced to rely on their distinctly mediocre second string, and ridding the club of this eye-rolling “typical bloody Rangers” mentality that infests the place on days like Saturday could just be exactly that.

Links >>> Photo Gallery >>> Ratings and Reports >>> Message Board Match Thread

QPR: Dieng 6; Laird 6 (Armstrong 90, -), Dickie 4, Balogun 5, Paal 6; Field 6, Iroegbunam 6 (Adomah 84, -), Amos 5 (Dozzell 61, 5); Chair 5, Dykes 6, Willock 5

Subs not used: Dunne, Archer, Thomas, Shodipo

Bookings: Field 68 (foul)

WBA: Palmer 6; Furlong 7, Bartley 8, O’Shea 7, Pieters 5 (Townsend 84, -); Yokuslu 7 (Livermore 90, -), Molumby 7; Wallace 7 (Gardner-Hickman 90, -), Swift 7, Diangana 6 (Thomas-Asante 64, 7); Phillips 6 (Reach 84, -)

Subs not used: Button, Rogic

Goals: Bartley 68 (assisted Swift)

Bookings: Pieters 16 (foul), Molumby 90+1 (time wasting)

QPR Star Man — Ethan Laird 6 Pfffffffff. Best of a mediocre bunch? Posed attacking threat on the rare occasions we got him good early ball rather than pisballing about with extra touches and passes in front of a well set up, disciplined and hard working opponent. A sliding tackle for the ages in there as well.

Referee — Thomas Bramall (Sheffield) 5 Three times we’ve had this young official already this season, promoted to the Premier League in the summer. At Blackburn, against Reading, and here, he has bottled big decisions in all three games, either because he wasn’t confident enough in his own authority to give them (the John Buckley non-red card at Ewood Park where he reached for his pocket before realising he’d already booked him), or his positioning wasn’t adequate enough for him to see them properly (the ludicrous handball penalty v the Royals). The Albert Adomah penalty appeal late in this game is a mixture of both. His game management on things like play-acting and time wasting is exactly what it is — that of an inexperienced kid, being intimidated and taken to school by old pros like Kyle Bartley. Compare it, for instance, to how Andy Davies (not a particularly good Championship referee himself) dealt with these sorts of issues at Norwich in the week. His communication and coordination with his assistants is non-existent, resulting in frequent incidents where a throw in or free kick is given opposite ways by two officials, or only after an inordinate delay.

It is exactly what it looks like - a kid learning his trade on the job. The participation in refereeing is in crisis through poor pay, management, and escalating violence and abuse. If you get a kid like this who wants to do it, and has the natural ability, you reward and promote and get him as high up the ranks as you can as quickly as possible and he will of course get better the more high level games he does. I don’t really see how we get out of the current mess without doing this. But he’s here before his time, and his experience in the game and self confidence isn’t at a level yet that can deal with football games at this level. In order to try and solve a problem many years in the making in this country, where the management of refereeing has been an old boy’s club done by incompetent retired officials like Mike Riley whose faces fit, where a group of Premier League referees have been allowed by employment regulations to grow old and comfortable together, where abuse and violence against officials at grassroots levels has reduced the talent pool and participation to crisis-levels, we’re now stuck in situations like this — they’re so desperate, we’ve got the work experience lad learning on our time.

Attendance — 17,139 (1,800 West Brom approx.) Fantastic to see it so full, so frustrating that new comers or occasionals weren’t sent away with something that will bring them back. Looking forward to our next Saturday 15.00 kick off here on… January 21.

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Paddyhoops added 17:08 - Nov 6
Spot on Clive. 3 howlers from Dickie, Belagon and Paal in the first ten minutes set the tone for pretty much the whole tome for the game.
Once they went ahead it was game over .
Reminiscent of the dieing embers of Warbs time here.
A fit and firing Stef would have pushed us over the line but that option is gone for now.

062259 added 17:56 - Nov 6
4 points from the last 5 games has somewhat derailed much of the early season progress, and most of it oddly coincides with Beale’s decision to stay put.

Still, with only 2 of the current top 11 left to play away from home, there is reason for optimism if players can get fit during the long break and the team can rediscover their early season form.

These next two “winnable” games will go a long way to determining the mood over the break, with a mouthwatering game against Burnley waiting on the other side.

Geoff78 added 19:12 - Nov 6
Agree we were dreadful in the first 15 but I thought we got better as the half wore on and for the first part of the second half were fairly comfortable but not, of course, threatening.

BTW I heard that Brandon Thomas-Asante was signed from Salford on the recommendation of one Matt Smith.

NewYorkRanger added 19:33 - Nov 6
Disappointing game, performance and result. That starting 11 does look good on paper but too much rests on Willock and when he’s not quite at it the team suffers.
That minutes ‘silence’ though - what a joke. I was looking at the players and most of them were clapping too. Pig ignorant or misinformed? Not too difficult to understand how a minutes silence works I would have thought

Marshy added 20:17 - Nov 6
The injuries we’ve had continues to blight what has been a very promising start. As the squad is somewhat lightweight I would like to hope we’ll see some new faces in the next transfer window, but won’t count on it knowing the financial constraints we’re under. I don’t like to be too critical of Mick Beale who clearly has been brilliant for us, but feel yesterday he was too slow in changing things tactically. I’m not sure why he left the substitutions so late, but we needed to get a grip of the game particularly early in the second half. West Brom to give them credit gave us very little space as the pressed us so well all over the pitch. Our best games this season have been when our creative players have had more time and space on the ball. Clearly this is something we need to work on.

FrankRightguard added 20:57 - Nov 6
I wasn’t that concerned with the Adomah penalty appeal, Uncs may have got it if he’d had made more of an effort for the ball. What was a pen though, was when O’Shea absolutely flattened Dykes with a barge in the back under a cross.

stneotsbloke added 08:59 - Nov 7
Certainly was a miserable afternoon. We expect so much of Illy and Willy and when they get blocked out we have next to no creativity. The bench was utterly underwhelming.
A quick check reveals that so far this season Dykes has been on the pitch for 1322 minutes and (excluding penalties) scored three goals ie. a goal every 440 minutes. Whether that's because he simply isn't very good at being in the right place at the right time or the crap service he gets is open to debate but goes a long way to explain why we're so toothless in attack.

thehat added 12:37 - Nov 7
Thanks Clive - enjoyed the report as always. Appreciate I might be in the minority but I really enjoyed the game and despite the result I thought it was two very good Championship teams having a go at each other with very little between them. 

On another day that game finishes a draw or we even nick it.

However we really must now get three points tomorrow and go into the Coventry game with some confidence.

extratimeR added 12:56 - Nov 7
Yes, saw it same as you Clive, no problem with Lyndon, ran and chased, and made himself available for a cross ( or any kind of service) that never arrived.

This won't be the last team that sets up like this against us in Home games, and the normal tactic is to move the bloody ball a lot bloody quicker.

I was surprised at how late the subs were, was our bench carrying knocks?

This poor old Ref should not be at this level, he is for a nasty shock when we get to play offs/relegation time, he will be eaten alive.
Shame, big crowd as well .

Great report Clive, spot on as usual.

londonscottish added 18:48 - Nov 7
" I’ve had stuff delivered quicker by Royal Mail than some of the service our wide players got on Saturday".

God, the movement was just dreadful. Really, really frustrating to watch. Especially when we've see just how fast this squad can ping the ball about and open up defences.

Later on, the Baggies just went really narrow - and Rangers, for some reason, just kept on trying to go down the middle. Baffling.

Oh well, a good day out with various mates, but still....

sprocket added 21:33 - Nov 7
Thanks Clive, as ever. I was over in London on family trip and brought my son who does not support QPR. He really enjoyed the experience which was great but it was so frustrating how slow and laboured they started the game.

TacticalR added 22:28 - Nov 7
Thanks for your report.

This can't have been easy to write, as there was not much to remember from this game from a QPR perspective. We've had trouble creating much against Birmingham, Norwich and now West Brom.

Agree Stefan Johansen makes a big difference. Amos and Dozzell feel like a big step down and just can't fill the gap. Iroegbunam played well.

Agree we need to get the full backs forward if Chair, Willock and Iroegbunam are running into traffic in the middle. Yes, Willock did not look fit. It might be better to do what we did at Norwich and just play him second half for now.

One thing you didn't describe was the whole passage of play that led to the free kick. First a poor chest down from Chair that played Field into trouble, and then a wild swing at the ball from Field.

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